Whatever your reasons are for beginning a gun collection, the first step is, of course, to buy your first gun. Because there are so many guns available for purchase from so many different outlets, your choices can feel overwhelming. Here's a list of what I consider to be the best places to buy that first firearm -- the one that starts it all.
The Internet is a valuable resource for gun collectors. Not only can you research guns and their values online but there are plenty of places to shop for guns, too. Your shopping choices will include gun auction sites, distributors who specialize in collectible weapons, and military surplus sales. The type of weapon and your budget will play a huge role where you buy your gun. These are some of the sites I recommend:
Keep in mind that when receiving a gun from out of state you will have to have it shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer (FFL) in your state. They will handle all of the legal paperwork involved with the transfer but they will typically charge you around $50 per transaction. For this reason, it's a good idea to get an FFL for Collectors of Curio and Relic Firearms (known as a C&R). This will allow you to have collectible guns shipped directly to you, without the need to pay an FFL for the transfer.
Many people prefer to purchase their guns in person, rather than online. This gives you the ability to hold and inspect the weapon before purchase. There are a number of places to purchase guns in person:
- Gun Shows: There are lots of collectible guns to be found at gun shows, though prices tend to run a bit on the high side. Consider using your smart phone to check on the value of any gun you find at a gun show before making the purchase. You can often haggle with the seller to secure a lower price.
- Gun Ranges: Shooting ranges will often have their own inventory of guns for sale and many will sell weapons for other people on consignment. You will sometimes find really great deals on these consigned guns and the inventory will change regularly so check your local range frequently.
- Pawn Shops: Pawn shops typically carry guns but they don't always have a great selection of collectible weapons. The deals on such guns are usually hit or miss and the prices are almost always higher than those you would find online. Again, though, you have the ability to haggle for a lower price.
- Estate Sales: Collectors occasionally find amazing treasures at estate sales. Unfortunately, such finds are few and far between. Keep an eye out for guns if you are at an estate sale, but don't go to such sales expecting to find them.
- Gun Stores: While gun stores might be the first place you would think to go for a gun, they generally stock mostly new guns, so the selection of collectibles will be low. Because they also maintain a facility and staff, prices will be generally higher.